Here’s a fact. For every three new cars sold in India, there are about four used ones that exchange hands. As you can imagine, the used car market is thriving, and how. The reasons to consider going for a pre-owned car are centered around, but not limited to, how much financial sense they make. With new cars losing value literally the moment they roll out of the showroom, you can save big money by even going for a car that’s just a few months old. For others, the decision to go for a used car opens the doors to multiple options to suit a limited budget.
And with the used car sector becoming more organized– with banks offering loans and many retailers even offering warranties on the cars they sell – you can buy a pre-owned car with more confidence than ever before. That said, buying a used one still does not come with the same peace of mind as a new car. At times, you’ll have to swallow a brave pill before committing money to someone else’s, possibly abused, old car. It’s really to do with the fear of ending up with a lemon. Over the following pages, we’ve tried to allay some of the fears a used car buyer might have by listing out what they must look for in a prospective car.
- WHOM SHOULD I BUY FROM?
There are three main avenues for buying a used car in India – an individual, a used car broker, and the franchised pre-owned dealer. The customer-to-customer model certainly seems to be the easiest choice if the seller is known to you. The fact that there’s no middleman involved to make a quick buck out of the transaction also gives you more leeway to fix a good price. Used car classifieds in newspapers and websites are also a fast way of getting in touch with private sellers. But do not buy on face value itself, do all the checks necessary and be prepared to do a little bit of running about for the vehicle transfer.
Small-scale used car brokers are the other option to search for cars. While such dealers may have the car you want in ready stock and are happy to close a deal fast, be sure to thoroughly check all details before signing any papers. Dealers and brokers are known to act high-handed once a deal is done. And they seldom entertain any comebacks. Also, be sure to bargain because the quoted price has some room for negotiation.
The organized used car sector, with players like Maruti Suzuki True Value and Mahindra First Choice to name some, is the costliest option for a used car. But the premium price also buys you peace of mind with regards to the condition of the vehicles. The cars are professionally inspected before being put on sale, and most retailers also add benefits like service packages and warranties. The transparent paperwork and buying experience also make this largely a fuss-free transaction. Prices at such retailers are often said to be fixed but you can bargain for sure.
- WHAT SHOULD MY HOMEWORK COMPRISE OF?
First up, be sure if the car you are eyeing is suited to your needs and offers a hassle-free ownership experience. Read reviews of the car and try to speak to a couple of existing owners to get an idea of running costs, the typical problems associated with it, and the price of spares and maintenance.
After you have finalized your choice of car, do some homework before setting out on your search and beginning negotiation. Find out about the going rates of the vehicle you are interested in. Prices vary according to the year of manufacture, variant, vehicle condition, and even color. Also, familiarise yourself with the features of the car and variant; this will be helpful in spotting things that may be missing from the car. All the information will put you on firmer ground while buying.
- WHAT ABOUT MY BUDGET?
Make up your mind on the amount of money you want to spend, including the room for stretching it. When shopping, it is very easy to get tempted by an enthusiastic salesperson into buying above your means for the sake of a larger car or more features. So, it’s up to you to be vigilant and remain grounded during the purchase. If finance is what you are looking at, then be aware that interest rates for used car loans are usually higher than those for new cars and as a result, you might pay a lot more than the sticker price. If finance is a must then opt for short-term loans with lower interest rates. Check with your regular bank for loan options. Facilities like an overdraft on your fixed deposit could work out to be cheaper options.
- SHOULD I BELIEVE THESE PEOPLE?
Brokers and salespeople typically have a suave demeanor and are skilled at persuading customers to buy products they may not otherwise be interested in. They typically go all out to persuade customers to part with their money because sales commissions are on the line. Take everything that is said to you, including what is said and how it is spoken, facial expressions, and even voice tone, with a grain of salt. For instance, they might direct a consumer toward a lemon (a model that isn’t selling), extol its advantages, and provide more discounts, all without pointing out any of its flaws. Use your research to separate the facts from the fluff that is being presented to you and to fight against any assertion that you believe to be incorrect. Don’t be persuaded by freebies like a full tank of gas or coupons for vehicle shine; instead, pay what the automobile is worth.
- HOW IS THE CAR’S CONDITION?
Since you’re not purchasing a brand-new car, but rather a single used piece of equipment, this can be a little problematic. And while the exterior may appear sleek and appealing, a closer examination of what’s inside is necessary. Evaluate the vehicle on your own. This is also advised at well-run used automobile dealerships that have a system in place for certification. It would be a smart idea to bring along a mechanic or a buddy who is familiar with autos. Insist on the service history, and conduct a thorough investigation to look for significant repairs, recurring issues, etc. Visually inspect the exteriors of the vehicles to look for any telltale signs of an accident. Dents, repainting, and scratches on the body surface may indicate that the vehicle has experienced an accident in the past. for underbody and suspension damage by raising it on a lift. Check the condition of the tires as well for uneven wear because new tires can be pricey. Check the state of the roof liner, the seat, and its mechanics, all electrical components and lights, the air conditioning, any traces of airbag deployment, etc. in the interiors.
Insist on driving the vehicle, look for any peculiarities, and ask the nearby expert for a full assessment. Finally, if you think there might be an issue with the automobile, let the seller know and see if it has any effect on the price. Also, feel free to end the negotiation if you are not completely satisfied with the car. Be patient; it’s not the end of the world; chances are there is another car out there that better suits your needs.
- WHAT YEAR SHOULD I BUY A CAR?
After the first three years of ownership, new car prices often fall dramatically; after that, values tend to level off. Finding a used purchase in this area is ideal. In general, a two- to three-year-old purchase would have experienced the most of its depreciation but would still be in reasonably decent condition if utilized properly. Additionally, if a warranty or extended warranty is still in effect, it might be able to reduce repair costs in the event that some parts are defective. Models with a lot of miles on them may have experienced more wear and tear, so be sure to keep a close watch on their condition. In general, it’s advisable to avoid cars that are more than five years old because the likelihood that they need maintenance is great. Avoid brands that have been taken off the market as well because replacement parts might be difficult to find and pricey. Once more, it’s helpful to be aware of the significant costs involved in a car’s lifespan. You would be looking at a big investment in the near future if a car was approaching a major engine or gearbox overhaul.
- HOW DO YOU NEGOTIATE WITH THESE GUYS
At the end of the day, you are the customer, and the customer is king. While haggling, do not be timid, be obstinate, adhere to the price you believe the product is worth, and support your position with arguments. Pay attention to the arguments that are returned to you. These may include “obvious” arguments, sentimental cries, violent outbursts, stories of loss, etc., but resist giving in. Recall that it is a standard strategy. If you must lower the anticipated price, do so only a little and indicate that you want to complete the transaction straight away. Give them your card and go if they dither. You will probably receive a callback sooner or later. The longer a car sits on the lot at a used car dealer or broker, the longer their money is stopped. So even if they lose some money here, they’ll make it up somewhere else on another vehicle. Remain steadfast and resist the pull of feelings. So be composed and make your move. Every aspect of it is a game.
- HOW ABOUT THE DOCUMENTS?
As crucial as inspecting the vehicle’s condition is making sure that the paperwork is in order. The registration certificate, vehicle insurance documents, original purchase invoice, road tax receipt, pollution certificate, and form 35, together with a copy of the NOC from the financing firm, are all crucial pieces of paperwork. Remember that any modifications to the vehicle, such as an engine replacement or a change in body color, necessitate updating the registration certificate as well. Additionally, confirm that the car has no prior accident history.
You can encounter issues with the registration authorities during the transfer of ownership if the aforementioned paperwork is not in order. In addition to them, having the owner’s manual and the warranty information for the car or any installed accessories is useful.
Purchasing a used car can seem like a difficult task. However, if you do your research and carefully follow the above instructions, you’ll probably be rewarded with a nice vehicle that fits your demands and budget.